Published on 10/09/14

Two Bleckley County 4-H members to attend Distracted Driving Prevention Summit

By Jordan Hill

Two Bleckley County 4-H members hope to educate their friends and community members about the dangers of distracted driving.

Trevor Barker, a high school senior, and high school sophomore Jade Allen will travel to the 2014 Teen Distracted Driving Prevention Summit, hosted by the National Organization for Youth Safety, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 18 to Oct. 20. The two 4-H’ers were chosen from hundreds of national applicants to attend the event.

“They were so ecstatic,” said Brandi McGonagill, Bleckley County Extension 4-H agent. “They posted it all over social media.”

The Bleckley County 4-H students will be working alongside more than 20 students from across the country to learn how to engage their community and warn fellow teens about the dangers of distracted driving.

Any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving is classified as “distracted driving.” Ten percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash, and this age group has the largest proportion of distracted drivers.

“These deaths are preventable,” said National Organizations for Youth Safety CEO Anita Boles in a press release. “Teens are especially prone to distractions. However, peer-to-peer education — led by youth — can save lives.”

The upcoming distracted driving summit will feature presentations, educational activities and interactive training. The three-day summit will also feature four different panels: a distracted driving data/research panel, impact panel, parent influence panel and youth voice panel.

The panels will focus on answering questions about teen brain development and distractions, how victims impact families and communities, and how affected individuals can inspire change.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to go to D.C., learn more about distracted driving and bring it back to our community,” McGonagill said.

Barker and Allen will bring back the information and resources they receive from the summit and host a local distracted driving prevention program, replicating the summit and its programming.

Barker is also on the student council at Bleckley County High School with plans to study medicine after graduation. Allen also stays busy with FFA, dance and showing horses.

While in the nation’s capital, the two will meet with legislators and tour historic sites and memorials in addition to attending the summit.

(Jordan Hill is an intern with the UGA Tifton Campus.)